Struggling Veteran Gets Help From Online Strangers
by Adam Ghassemi
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – One local veteran is on a new mission to support his family thanks to the kindness of strangers.
Dennis McDowell spent some time Thursday playing with his three dogs. That's something he doesn't have much time for these days.
When the former Army Sergeant isn't on the road working as a truck driver he's at home trying to find a way to hold onto it.
"All that stuff that you take for granted while you're in there, and you come out and then it comes out of your own pocket you're like whoa," he said about transitioning out of the military.
McDowell provides for a family of three here, and a daughter out-of-state. They've all but drained their savings.
Last year, when his wife, Cindy, was dealing with medical problems their bank agreed to lower their mortgage payment.
When their heater suddenly had to be replaced living paycheck to paycheck just wouldn't go any further.
"$900 was a house payment. Two car payments. Money we didn't have," he said.
So they started researching online and got list of "nos" until finally getting a "yes" from Modest Needs, an online community where anyone can fund emergency grants to stop people from slipping into poverty.
"Every day I'd go on the internet and look, and I'd see ok somebody funded twenty dollars," McDowell recalled. "It makes you stop and think that there's still people out there that care."
Little by little, strangers raised $500 for the family, but the site gave them a lot more than just emergency money.
McDowell says he now has growing confidence, and a plan to become more financially stable that includes giving back to the same online community that gave to them.
"Because we understand what's it's like to be in that position, and so I can't think of a better way to thank other people than to go on and help people that are in need," he said.
McDowell hopes to go back to school and get a better job one day. Until then he and his wife work whenever they can, and hopes they can start donating to Modest Needs soon.
The site's president and executive director, Keith Taylor, is actually from Nashville. He founded Modest Needs in 2002.